It would be easy to give the offense all the credit Saturday in a convincing 42-10 victory over Bowling Green.
After all, the Hoosiers rolled up 601 yards of offense and averaged more than eight yards per play.
But the defense shared the load in this one, too. And one player who made a few big plays on the afternoon was sophomore defensive end Nick Mangieri.The sophomore from Peoria, Ill. had a total of four tackles, three that were unassisted, a sack, and a pass breakup. He also had his first career interception.''
In the opening drive of the second half, IU elected to try an onside kick to surprise the Falcons coming out of the locker room. When the attempt was unsuccessful, the visitors set up shop in Hoosier territory.
This could have turned the tide in favor of Bowling Green, had it not been for Mangieri. On the Indiana 31-yard line, Matt Johnson stepped back to pass, when Mangieri came from nowhere and sacked the quarterback for four lost yards.
Two plays later, the defensive end stopped the drive of the Falcons by recording his first career interception on a pass that had been tipped by fellow Hoosier Tim Bennett.
"The ball just popped up and I was able to get it," Mangieri commented on his pick.
To his credit, he had to do more than just jump up and put his hands on the ball. He was able to recognize the ball when it was in the air and dove to ensure the possession would be given back to the Hoosiers.
"He plays hard. He has become more mature, more confident," coach Kevin Wilson remarked on the performance of his defensive end. "There's lots of potential there."
Following a game where the defense could not record a single stop and the rumors about a failed defense flew around the media, the Hoosiers retained focus and stepped up big.
"We take the things we hear to heart. We try and play every down like it's our last, and that's nothing new," linebacker David Cooper said. "We were able to show who we really are."
The defensive performance as a whole was refreshing, as they did not allow a single touchdown. The only time the Falcons reached the end zone was on a punt by the Hoosiers that Bowling Green was able to block and return for a six points.
With Missouri (2-0) on the docket for next week, the Hoosiers will be looking to use this game as a springboard in preparing for the Tigers.
"Tomorrow is a new week. We have to refocus, regroup, watch some film, and get after it," Mangieri said.